In a first-of-its-kind trial in the United States, a stem cell-derived natural killer cell immunotherapy is being tested in people with incurable cancer.
This natural killer immunotherapy trial is the first in the United States to use cells derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. iPS cells are similar to their embryonic counterparts, in that they can develop into any type of cell with the right stimulus.
The iPS cells used in this trial are mass produced and allogenic, meaning that the costly and time consuming process of harvesting cells from the patient is skipped. The resulting iPS cells are then differentiated into the natural killer cells, which are a means to combat cancers that are otherwise difficult to treat.
Dan Kaufman, MD, PhD has this to say: “This is a culmination of 15 years of work. My lab was the first to produce natural killer cells from human pluripotent stem cells. Together with Fate Therapeutics, we’ve been able to show in preclinical research that this new strategy to produce pluripotent stem cell-derived natural killer cells can effectively kill cancer cells in cell culture and in mouse models.
The FT500 clinical trial is a two-arm study with up to 64 patients for the treatment of advanced solid tumors. It is designed to assess the safety and effectiveness of multiple doses of FT500 administered over multiple cycles as a monotherapy and as a combination treatment with one of three checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapies — nivolumab, pembrolizumab or atezolizumab — in patients where previous treatments have not worked or who have confirmed disease progression on checkpoint inhibitor therapy.
For more information on this clinical trial, please see the original press release here: